From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I began researching more natural ways to carry, birth, and raise my child. I knew I was going to have a medication free birth. We attended a Bradley Method class and did all the “right” things to prepare. The birth of my daughter was everything and nothing like I expected all at once.
I’d been having contractions for a couple of days, but they weren’t consistent or progressing in intensity. They were more annoying than anything else – a tightening of my entire belly and then release. I never thought anything of it. I had an appointment on our “due date”, December 12, and I was 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced. The midwife said that we would schedule an appointment for the following Monday and if things didn’t look absolutely perfect, they would induce me right then. She really didn’t believe I would make it that long, and she expected we would meet our baby girl by that Thursday.
On Wednesday evening, around 5 pm, I was having relatively consistent contractions and decided to time them even though they were not producing any pain. The contractions were consistent at 7 minutes apart but were not progressing in intensity, so I decided to relax until my husband got home from work around 9 pm. I had a feeling I should take a nap, but there were a few dishes in the sink that were driving me crazy, so I decided to wash them. At about 8:30 pm I noticed some fluid was leaking. I waited until Chris got home and together we decided to call the midwife in case it was amniotic fluid. I called and explained what I was experiencing and the midwife thought it sounded like my water was breaking, so she directed us to come to the hospital to check. We hurriedly gathered everything to take to the hospital, made all the necessary phone calls, and headed out the door. We arrived at the hospital around 10:30 pm and the nurse checked me and tested the fluid. I was now 3 cm and 80% effaced and within two minutes, the fluid tested positive. Chris and I looked at each other and realized that we would soon have our baby girl in our arms.
We gave everyone a call to let them know that it was really happening. My mother came with my grandma, cousin, and brother, while my mother in law and her sister made the drive as well. We were brought to our room and quickly got settled. I knew that I should sleep but I was so anxious that I couldn’t relax enough to rest. We walked several laps around the maternity floor and stopped every once in a while so that I could bounce on the birthing ball to try to get things moving. I wasn’t feeling any painful contractions, but would feel more discomfort each time I needed to lay on the bed for them to check the baby’s heartbeat. My family arrived at around 3 am and when checked by the midwife, I hadn’t made any progress, so we continued our laps around the hall.
I was checked again at 6 am and still hadn’t made any progress from when I had arrived the night before. I was beginning to get frustrated because I didn’t want to be induced. Pitocin is the most commonly used drug to induce labor and it is the synthetic form of oxytocin, which is the hormone used by the brain to signal labor. Pitocin makes contractions stronger in intensity than they normally would be, which often times lead to more women choosing various forms of pain relief. It was at this check that the midwife recommended starting the Pitocin drip, explaining that it was what was best for my baby. I felt defeated, and reluctantly agreed. The Pitocin was started at 7 am, at the same time the midwife we were hoping would deliver our baby arrived.
Because my water had “broken”, the midwife wanted to limit the amount of times my cervix was disturbed (checked) in order to limit the risk of infection to the baby. I continued walking, bouncing on the ball, and praying things would progress, and the nurses kept increasing the dose of Pitocin. At noon, the midwife checked me and I had made zero progress, so she decided to break my water. Instantly, all the water came out and I had my first painful contraction.
It didn’t take long from that point for the contractions to begin getting very painful. I was so uncomfortable that I had my mom ask everyone except Chris to leave the room. The contractions were now on top of each other and I couldn’t catch a break. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t bear to be in any position except for lying on my left side. I felt like every pain-relieving method I had learned in our birthing class was useless.
The midwife came at some point to check on me and said I was up to 6 cm. I remember being in disbelief, as if the amount of pain I had already endured surely should have brought about more than a 6. My mother and husband were amazing at keeping me as focused as I could be. It was nearly impossible to breathe through these contractions and all I wanted was a break, just a minute to regain some strength and composure. But as soon as one contraction would end, another would begin again. The midwife had me roll to my right side and the pain was almost unbearable. Now I was at an 8. Four contractions later, it was time to push!
I pushed a few times and remember thinking it was so much harder than I ever thought it would be. All of the sudden there was a rush around the room as everyone seemed to be in a panic. The midwife yelled for me to get on my hands and knees right away. As I rolled to my hands and knees, I just prayed over and over that everything would be okay. In hindsight, my heart knew my daughter would be fine, but I honestly didn’t know if I was going to make it. Before I knew it, I was on my back again and I reached down to feel my daughter’s head. In an instant, I felt the most incredible release, and my sweet girl was on my chest. Just as quickly as she was there, she was gone. I couldn’t believe that it was all real, almost like I was having an out of body experience. It was at that moment that I heard her cry but I couldn’t see her or feel her or do anything for her.
I found out later that as I began pushing her heart rate dropped. She had her hand up by her head, and the cord was wrapped around her hand and neck. Thankfully, everything worked out. At the time the midwife was telling me to get on my hands and knees, they were preparing an OR for me.
I remember when I finally got to hold my baby girl, after they assessed that she was okay. I remember looking at this amazing human and saying, “Praise God for you, baby girl”. Praise God, indeed.
My daughter’s birth was everything and nothing like I imagined it would be. I struggled with a lot of guilt over her birth for the longest time, because I felt like I had failed her. I never wanted Pitocin, and because of it, I was never able to get out of my head and just let go. Everything happened so fast (from the time they broke my water to the minute she was placed on my chest, 2 hours and 54 mintues passed). And maybe things didn’t go as I had planned, but everything worked out the way it was meant to. And praise God for my baby girl.